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Maurice Gordon Reggae Interview


 Maurice Gordon

HPR:  When and why did you start playing? 


Maurice Gordon:  I started playing when I was about 14 years old in Canada growing up, father had a guitar and I used to doodle with it. One day a flyer came to the door about guitar lessons and my parents suggested I do it in order to get me out more, as I used to stay home and watch a lot of TV when I got to Canada.


HPR:  Which instruments do you play? 


Maurice Gordon:  My primary instrument is the guitar, second the bass and I play keyboards as well.


HPR:  What was the first tune(s) you learned? 


Maurice Gordon:  I cannot remember, but I was learning a little boogie bass/blues along with little songs from my guitar text book.


HPR:  Is your family musical?  


Maurice Gordon:  I would not say that my family is musical by training as no one plays an instrument but we are highly appreciative of music as Jamaicans.


HPR:  Describe your family member's musical interests and abilities. 


Maurice Gordon:  Apart from participating in church, listening to private and public music there is no real strong pursuit of music in my family except in appreciation. My mom loves her church music my father loves his popular music and some country and western.


HPR:  Which famous musicians do you admire? Why? 


Maurice Gordon: I admire a lot of famous musicians: Bob Marley for everything (song writing, performance, he is the icon of reggae.  George Benson, Wes Montgomery, Charlie Christian, Jimi Hendrix, B,B. King, Ernie Ranglin,  Santana and many more as they are great musicians/guitar players and performers.


HPR:  Which famous musicians have you learned from?  


Maurice Gordon:  I have learnt from all of the above as I have copied from their recordings. I have met, personally and learnt directly from George Benson briefly.  I met him and he also gave me the gift of a guitar.


HPR:  Who was your first teacher? Other teachers? 


Maurice Gordon:  The name of my first guitar teacher I do not remember unfortunately. I should really try to find him. But my second guitar teacher was a Canadian guitarist named James Taylor and he was great and introduced me to a lot of things, others include Bobby Edwards, Lorne Loftsky. I have also studied with players of other instruments like sax jazz teacher John McLaughlin (yes another famous name) pianist Frank Falco, all great teachers that I have been very happy to have studied with. But literally learn from everybody including my students as well a ton of books, now youtube and the lists goes on...


HPR:  Describe your first instrument. 


Maurice Gordon:  My first instrument was a LERO acoustic guitar that my father owned, nothing special but workable and was my starting instrument until I bought a electric El Degas Les Paul, that was a great guitar, still have it and it is still very, very comfortable even though I do not use it as it electronic repair.  I love that type of guitar or the PRS...


HPR:  What are your fondest musical memories? 


Maurice Gordon:  I have had many, like performing with Jimmy Cliff and traveling the world and meeting some great people whom I am still very much in touch with. But a very special moment is being with my guitar hero George Benson being driven by him in his Bentley while he sings/imitates Nat King Cole taking me to his favourite Japanese restaurant. Also being in his guitar vault seeing and playing some of the most famously owned and expensive jazz guitars in the world. I also enjoyed showing him and his wife around Jamaica after hanging out with him all day in Montego Bay. Playing my song Moving’ With Your Love in Toronto 2 years ago for the first time and the audience applauded.


HPR:  Were you influenced by old records & tapes? Which ones? 


Maurice Gordon:  It is next to impossible to not be influence by all that music I grew up with...The great guitar playing of Ernie Ranglin on Wilfred Jackie Edwards album and many moore by Ernie, all the guitar stuff on Third World and Bob Marley’s music. The great guitar playing on Brook Benton, Solomon Burke and so much more...all the Blues I heard, Jazz, Ska and folk music...


HPR:  Who are your favorite musicians? Groups? And CD's? 


Maurice Gordon:  Santana, George Benson, Jimi Hendrix, Thirdy World, Bob Marley, Miles Davis, Wes Montgomery, John McLaughlin, Ernie Ranglin...Cds by all of them, The Cello suite by Bach, Yngwie Malsteem, Steve Vai, Satriani, Blues guitar players and more...


HPR:  Have you been in competitions? Any prizes? 


Maurice Gordon:  No competitions of worth, no prizes.  Musicians Union and Industry awards in Jamaica, Best Live Jazz, best composition, Best Jazz Performance...

Recently my band MOJAHROCK entered the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission song competition but we did not win, but we gained a lot for a new band (see my YouTube channel).


HPR:  Do you perform in public? Describe those occasions? Concerts, radio, TV? 


Maurice Gordon:  I perform in all forums, club, concerts, festivals, TV, radio, etc.  I also do functional work as guitarist for weddings, cocktails.


HPR:  How do you handle mistakes during a performance? 


Maurice Gordon:  I don’t handle them; I play on...and make some music out of them...


HPR:  Do you get nervous before a performance or a competition? 


Maurice Gordon:  I still get nervous sometimes, it depends on the kind of event and the audience I have...


HPR:  What advice would you give to beginners who are nervous? 


Maurice Gordon:  Try to relax and concentrate on your music, it will take time to get over and get on with it and even then you will still get nervous.


HPR:  Do you attend sessions? What makes a good session? 


Maurice Gordon:  Sessions as in jam?


HPR:  Yes. 


Maurice Gordon:  That does not really happen in Jamaica too often, sometimes players invite me, like Chinna Smith to Jam a little and exchange ideas or to teach him something as well I invite them to jam on my show but not very frequently as I am playing traditional Jazz sometimes and the players are not really deep into it in Jamaica.


A good session happens when players are relaxed and are there for the fun, communication, camaraderie and not to compete and not to show who off.


HPR:  How often and for how long do you practice? 


Maurice Gordon:  I practice often when I can which is most times and I practice long for hours on end when allowed.


HPR:  What do you practice - exercises, new tunes, hard tunes, etc.? 


Maurice Gordon:  I practice all of the above, technique, exercises, Jazz studies/lines, tunes, composition etc...


HPR:  Do you teach music? 


Maurice Gordon:  I teach a lot privately and at the Edna Manley College in Kingston Jamaica.  I am the probably the most in demand teacher in jazz and modern music in Jamiaica. I am considered here to be the best modern and most influential music teacher for guitar, bass, keyboards and drums in Jazz particularly for the modern young Jamaican musicians.


Some of whom include: Richard Browne (Shaggy/Jimmy Cliff and many more), Dwayne Livingstone (The best young bassist in JA), Adrian Henry and Kenroy Mullings (Beenie Man), Deleon “Jubba” White (Dubtonic Kru), Phillip James, Andre Carter, Shiah Coore (Junior Gong). Local media has said that I am the number 2 guitar player in Jamaica after the number one Mr. Ernie Ranglin, Jamaica's guitar guru.


HPR:  How do you balance your music with other obligations - mate, children, and job? 


Maurice Gordon:  It is hard to balance but I try and that is why sometimes I do not get to practice as much as I used to but I try and it can be rough because of family, work etc... But life is about trying to achieve balance...Sometimes I fail at it but I l keep trying... Sometimes you have to ignore one over the other...


How To Play Reggae would like to thank Maurice Gordon for taking the time out to do this interview and wish all the best for the future. Click the link to contact Maurice Gordon

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